Celebrating Life Stories

March 21, 2022

GEM - Going the Extra Mile with a gem in the background

Did you know Palm Garden caregivers are empowered to learn the personal life story of every individual we’re lucky enough to serve? We are. It’s called the Palm Garden Way. We believe care is best delivered according to the grand tapestry of life events, memories, milestones, and experiences we all accumulate as individuals throughout our lives. So we learn who our guests and residents are and then we celebrate them. We call that Going the Extra Mile, or GEMS. Each caregiver is empowered and expected to learn anything that will enrich a person’s time with us, let them know they are loved like family- celebrated, and then make it happen.

GEMs are not identified by the money spent, rather their relation to the life story of our guest, resident, or family member. GEMS are personal. GEMS are quintessentially who we are as a family of caregivers.

I’d like to share a GEM with you. It comes to us from Palm Garden of Largo and our fantastic Regional Director of Transitional Services, Lisa Kent.

This little man is Fritzie. And you can see he’s excited because he’s going to see his mom.

A dog sitting out the window of a car with the caption over it that reads I'm going to visit my mom.

See, Fritzie’s mom, Sue, had a cardiac event that landed her in the hospital. She missed her little boy. You can imagine, 1-3 days away from each other is bad enough. But 30 days after open-heart surgery? There were moments, I’m sure, Sue wondered if she’d ever see Fritz again.

Now Fritz is good at a lot of things- cuddling, barking at strangers, and biting folks that fall for his good looks and puppy-dog eyes, but one thing he can’t do is drive. And Sue doesn’t have anyone to bring him to see her. Fritz is all she has. Her best friend…

When guests arrive at Palm Garden of Largo, they’re welcomed with a GEM within the first three days. Often it’s a personalized blanket related to their life story. Our caregivers knew how much she missed her little man and wanted her to feel closer to him. So they scoured Amazon and found a cozy blanket. Perfect for the chilly Florida mornings we’ve had lately. Look real close, it says “All you need is the love of a dog.”

A blanket with dogs on it.

Sometimes all our guests have is the love of a dog at home.

Sue knew she wasn’t strong enough to go home yet because she was a paramedic for 20 years. She was born in Rochester, New York, and worked for Alfred Fire Department in Allegany County. Sue was the first female captain of a fire engine in the State of New York. Pumper Engine #5! Fritz means so much to Sue that even after open-heart surgery and 30 days in the hospital she wanted to go home instead of getting stronger with us.

So Lisa didn’t just arrange a visit. On a Saturday and in the middle of a Spring thunderstorm, Lisa picked Fritz up at Sue’s condo. She walked the little fella first to try and establish some trust. (Fritz won’t get in the car with just anybody) And then she drove him to see his mom. Just look at the smiles:

A dog and his owner happily visiting together in a chair in her room with a dog blanket over them.

Their smiles say it all. This is what it’s all about- “the good stuff.” Going the Extra Mile. We are fortunate, each of us, to be members of the Palm Garden Family where life story celebrations like this are expected and encouraged.

Did you know GEMS are for everyone? If you’ve got a loved one or friend at any of our Palm Garden Post-Acute Rehabilitation and Living Centers, you can call us and fill us in on GEM opportunities. You can also reach us through our website “contact us” button. Mom and Dad have an anniversary coming up, tell us. Grandpa is a big western fan, grandma likes to knit, tell us what will make your loved one’s day and we’ll make it happen.

There is no charge for GEMS. Seeing smiles like Sue and Fritzie’s is our emotional compensation. We are, after all, family. It’s our pleasure.


November 19, 2020

Mattie W. Resident, Palm Garden of Tampa Mattie and her husband completed a private adoption in 1955 while they were stationed in Korea in the Military. They adopted the most beautiful set of twins through Seventh Day Adventist Adoption Agency. Adoption changed their lives forever. Her most memorable moment was when she and her husband… Read more »


November 18, 2020

Allen Gross, Life Enrichment Specialist Palm Garden of Clearwater Allen adopted a group of sisters in 1993 from the Department of Children and Families, Florida Foster Care System. He came to believe, after being a foster parent for over two years, that you should never separate siblings. Allan has a big heart, as well as… Read more »

Palm Garden Celebrates National Adoption Month

November 17, 2020

Did you know right now there are 122,000 kids in foster care looking for a home?  This year alone, 20,000 will “age out” without ever knowing the love of parents or a secure home. Think about the impact adoption makes.  You have within your power to elevate the trajectory of a young person’s life, yes. … Read more »

Palm Garden Day of Prayer Live at 12:30 AM, 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM – September 15, 2020!

September 14, 2020

Announcing Palm Garden Day of Prayer! Join the Palm Garden Family on September 15, 2020

September 2, 2020

Join us for Palm Garden Day of Prayer, September 15th, 2020.  Join us live at 12:30 AM, 8:30 AM, and 4:30 PM by calling 800-503-2899.  Enter Access Code: 4911360#.  You’ll be joined to a live prayer conference.  Follow Palm Garden on Facebook or Twitter for more details.

COVID-19 Update: Thank you to Friends and Family

March 15, 2020

Dear Guests, Residents, Family, and Friends, We want to thank you for your partnership in protecting those entrusted to our care from exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19).  We took the protective measure to restrict all visitation very seriously.  As you’ve probably seen, CMS Secretary Seema Verna followed our lead.  Our visitor restriction remains in place. Your… Read more »

COVID-19 Update: Helpful Information

March 15, 2020

Dear Palm Garden Family, Friends, and Loved Ones, We want to share some information to help keep you informed: Visitation: Visitation to Palm Garden centers remains restricted. Laundry: We will do all laundry during our visitor restriction.  Family and friends may call the center and arrange safe transfer of clothing.  We will label it, wash… Read more »

COVID-19 Update: Notice to Families Restricting Visitation

March 10, 2020

Dear Palm Garden Guests, Residents, Families and Visitors, Though Palm Garden has no known cases of the Coronavirus, it is critical that we take every precaution possible to prevent it from entering our nursing and rehabilitation centers. We have made the difficult decision to restrict all visitation until further notice. The health and safety of… Read more »

COVID-19 Guidance from Palm Garden

March 4, 2020

Dear Guests, Residents, and Family Members,   We know many are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 (the new coronavirus) being reported in the media and how it may impact us here at Palm Garden.  Caring for you in a safe and healthy environment is our highest priority.  At this time we have no reported cases… Read more »